What are the biggest red flags for different kinds of hormone imbalance? And more science and hijinks on The Paleo View with Sarah and Stacy
Last week Sarah and Stacy had me as a guest on their podcast The Paleo View. They said that it was a moral imperative for them to have me on — other people were starting to come on the show more often, and they needed to keep me as their most frequent guest. This made our fourth episode together, I think.
And what an episode, too!
Let it stand by way of an introduction that I love and admire these two women beyond words. Sarah’s The Paleo Approach, the ultimate guide to autoimmune disease that was released last month and which has made gigantic waves in the paleo and holistic health scenes, and Stacy’s Beyond Bacon and Eat Like a Dinosaur are just some of the many reasons these women inspire me daily.
They also happen to be sassy, and strong, and smart, and mmmmmm yay!
So in this podcast we focus on hormone balance.
What are the primary kinds of hormone imbalance, and what are the signs and symptoms?
What role do hormones play in other health conditions like autoimmune disease? Is there a connection? (Answer: you bet!)
What’s up with birth control and how can it negatively affect hormone balance both in the short and long term?
And boatloads more.
And don’t forget the opportunity to win a free, pre-release, signed copy of Sexy by Nature, by submitting your completion of the sentence “I love my body because…” in the comments at the blog post http://paleoforwomen.com/sbn.
And check back in a few days as I gear up to give away big.
Today, I stared at myself in the bathroom mirror of Barnes and Noble for an embarrassingly long amount of time. Three minutes. Five. Ten. Why? Yesterday I finally “caved” – I went to the thrift store and bought a whole new set of pants, having barely managed to squeeze myself into my last pair of “fat” pants no longer.
I needed to up my size. I learned in the dressing room the need was even more drastic than I thought.
This was a bit of a shock – to go from a zero to a six – (holy I’ve been squeezing Batman) and so I found myself poking and prodding for days afterward.
How different do I now look?
Honestly I have no idea.
And am I any more or less attractive than I was before?
Well. That’s subjective, but I am feeling damn adamant that it’s about the same.
To assert in the title of this post that you lack objectivity is, I know, offensive. I apologize. Nonetheless I am certain the statement is true – it is literally impossible for me to see myself (and for you to see yourself) outside of my own current situation and time. As human beings, just as it is impossible to see ourselves without judging ourselves relative to other people, it is impossible to see ourselves without judging ourselves relative to a way we have been in the past or how we anticipate we might be in the future.
We have no objective standards. It is beyond important for us to realize this fact.
To help demonstrate to you just how powerful this phenomenon can be, I have compiled a wide variety of comparisons of different photos of myself taken at various points in time. Below are two photos posted with comments on them: one set from the context in which the photo was taken — the then – (so if the photo was taken in 2011, I share my thoughts from 2011), and then one set from today, the now.
Today I look back on photos in which I had thought I was egregiously overweight, bloated, jiggly, or poorly shaped and I think either ‘healthy wow’ or ”skinny wow” – two sets of thoughts that were completely beyond my my current, unobjective, fearful mind.
Will I do the same thing in the future with my current self? Will I, over time, come to view the body I am in in this moment in 2014 as even more worthy of admiration and love and beauty than I do now? Will I look back and think all of my “bad” days were so unbelievably uncalled for?
I am not objective.
I do not pretend to be.
First up are photos from my pre-weight loss days.
Fall of 2009, right before I shed thirty pounds in three months, so I weighed approximately 135-7 pounds. Here, I am participating in a (unorthodox) wilderness evacuation group, having the time of my life, and in extraordinarily good health and fitness, as I lifted heavy things and climbed mountains all day every day:
Spring of 2008:
Fall of 2007: Hiking the Great Wall – after a whole summer of living and doing trailwork in the Colorado wilderness.
In retrospect, I looked good, and happy, and healthy.
Then come the post-weight loss double-zero, lean years, in which I maintain my attitude of being hyper critical and fearful:
This photo is from the Spring of 2011, from my go-go dancing days:
The fall of 2010:
This photo is from the winter of 2011, in which I thought I was having a “fat month” intermission during the lean years:
Spring of 2011 on a beach in Taiwan:
Okay, the fact that I was worried about being “fat” in these photos is scary.
Also the spring of 2011 on a beach in Taiwan:
This photo is from the summer of 2013, right before my recent complete fertility and regular menstruation-gaining weight gain:
Then are the photos I have taken of myself since the weight gain. Since they are so recent I do not have “then” and “now” selections, but I do have “bad brain” and “good brain.”
From the thrift store when I was trying on new pants – checking in on how far apart my feet now need to be for the gap:
This photo is from last weekend, taken at 4am in the hallway of a Latin dance conference in Chicago, at which, of course, I was so happy:
So there you have it. What are some takeaways?
-You probably saw a woman much healthier and lovelier than I ever did/do – then, now, good brain, bad brain. Though I think I’m getting the hang of it now.
-Thighs are a big deal for me. We all have that one “big deal” flaw or what-have-you that is the most important to us.
In fact, this point is worth delving into a bit, since a study I participated in in college demonstrated that we seek in and judge other people the things that we are so attentive to as flaws in our own selves. So I immediately look at people’s skin and their thighs when I “judge” them – or at least these are the characteristics that stand out – because I focus so intently on my own.
-When I was 137 pounds I nitpicked specific body parts – mostly my thighs, though I guess that’s not apparent in these photos – and every time I looked at these photos on facebook I winced, thinking other people would find me unattractive.
-When I was 105 pounds I nitpicked specific body parts – mostly my thighs – and every time I looked at these photos I felt bad about myself, like I wasn’t winning the skinny game.
-When I returned to 130+ pounds in 2013 I still had bad days, but the good days significantly outnumber them. “Bad brain” tries to pick apart my body and put it into these tiny, scrutinizable, dissectable pieces, but “good brain” says “hell no, woman, you are healthy and whole, inclusive of every piece of you.”
-Fear robs us of love and objectivity. In my current body, I am so afraid of being judged and rejected as substandard. But in hindsight – having already lived the time – I look back on it knowing that everything was perfectly fine and healthy.
-Even in a case in which I/we look back and find myself in less good health, I can still see how my fear made me feel unacceptable, but I needn’t have felt that way, since everything was just plain okay. And I am on a continuously evolving, surprising journey.
-Life is not neat. It is messy. This fact can be scary, but it can also be quite lovely and liberating. Looking at photos of like this demonstrates how much our bodies change even while our reactions to and fear about our bodies stays the same. I have the same fears and anxiety at 130 pounds as I did at 105, and at 137. Of course there are differences, but my anxiety about it all has always been present. Knowing this fact teaches me a bit more each day to let go of control and embrace each day as it is.
Okay! Whoopah. What do you think?
As of writing this post, there are exactly twenty days left until Sexy by Nature is released!
I also got about $2000 worth of books shipped to my house last week – and then took them all back to the post office for delivery to media outlets and bloggers all over the country today. That was one of the more fun trips to the Post Office I (and the employees) have ever had.
Having had my hands on it, I am so in love and feel so greedy.
Greedy, as in, I want to buy all of them myself and then give them all away to you for having been the best audience and community in the history of the planet.
Which I am going to try to do. I am giving away five free signed copies - details for entry are at the end of the post!
In between here and there is a quick preview in text and vlog form and a Sexy by Nature Q & A!
When I first opened the package I received in the mail containing book #1, I had no idea what was inside it. I hadn’t known it was coming. I was shocked. Speechless. Incredulous. Ohmigod I made this thing.
Immediately following the paralysis were all the usual emotional suspects: excitement laced with fear, visions of it on shelves, and intense foreboding as I knew that the second I opened it I would see nothing but flaws.
Book image, I thought, is a whole hell of a lot like body image.
Nonetheless I pushed forward and… nothing bad happened.
In fact, lots of good things happened.
Sure, I see a thing here or there I’d like to tweak, but overall, I am psyched with what we’ve put together. So psyched. This book is… well, it’s good. Damn good. I couldn’t put it down once I picked it up. I read it twice. Call me a first class ass, but it’s true. I think my book does some very powerful things.
Here is my first day with the book and a preview in vlog form!
Sexy by Nature Q & A
What is Sexy by Nature?
Sexy by Nature is, much like this website, three things:
1) a guide to physical health for women of all ages, shapes, and levels of health (think: weight maintenance, hormone balance, clear skin, fertility),
2) a guide to mental invincibility, self-love, and empowered confidence, and
3) a revolution, in that it calls women to own, love, and be allied with their natural bodies in a radically new and powerful way.
What is the purpose of Sexy by Nature?
The purpose of Sexy by Nature is to empower you. It’s to throw off the chains of the old ways of doing things and to free you to love and nourish your body. It is to heal you, transform your health, help you love your body, and become more excited every day to be the woman inside it.
How is Sexy by Nature organized? What do you talk about?
Approximately 2/3 of Sexy by Nature is all about physiological healing.
The other 1/3 is the mental, social-norm bucking, self-loving stuff.
Sexy by Nature is divided into five distinct parts:
Part I: Trailblaze (in which 7 “old rules” are discarded in favor of 7 kick ass “new” or “nature” rules)
Part II: Nourish (in which I explain my food philosophy, why its different from other health advocates, and what to eat and why)
Part III: Live (in which ten lifestyle hacks for better health and happiness are provided)
Part IV: Overcome (in which female specific health issues are discussed: hypothyroidism, female weight loss, PCOS, infertility, hormone balance, libido, acne, PMS, cramps, birth control, and more)
And Part V: Strut (in which I detail my philosophy of self-love, how to achieve self-love, the secret to being sexy, what sexy is, fearlessness, empowered confidence, and more)
Click here to read the table of contents!
What is the secret to being sexy?
I don’t want to spoil the surprise, but let it stand for now that sexy is about excitement. It’s about partnership with your body. It’s about health. It’s about worth. And being sexy…. you own it, and manifest it, you become it, all by being…
Who you choose to be.
Is Sexy by Nature really only for women/females?
I wrote this book with women in mind, certainly. I am a champion of the need to take female-specific health issues seriously. But:
A) if there is a woman in your life, or you ever interact with women, this could be a great read to understand how to help empower and love and heal them, and
B) if you ignore Part IV: Overcome, the one on female-specific health issues, you can learn about healing, about food, about lifestyle, about social norms, and about the way society has kept everybody from loving and being whole, not just those who define themselves as traditionally female and womanly.
Can I trust the author of Sexy by Nature?
Can I read more about the book elsewhere?
Is there a community of support for people interested in the book and implementing the changes for Sexy by Nature?
You bet! Sexy by Nature and all of its things – from health tips to inspiration quotes to success stories – can be found at the Sexy by Nature facebook page here.
Where can I get my hands on one if I don’t win the giveaway?
At Amazon HERE.
All right ladies, here goes! Good luck and have fun!
And if you already pre-ordered a copy, it’s easy peasy for my publisher to go in and cancel the order. So enter away! Nothing to stop you here.
Plus I really, really want to hear why you love your body!!!
Personally, I am Stefani Ruper, and I love my body because it gives me feet for dancing, hair that can be whipped about in the wind, and all the serotonin and dopamine I need in order to experience love and life.
On the very last page of Sexy by Nature, I list resources for further reading. Only about 15 books make the list – ranging from topics such as acne to natural childbirth, and with many in between. One category I give special attention to is myth busting. And in that category? Just two books: Denise Minger’s stellar Death by Food Pyramid, and Liz Wolfe’s highly informative, storied, uproariously fun Eat the Yolks, which just so happens to come out today.
Myth busting books are crucial – perhaps the most crucial of all the one’s we’ve got out there.
What’s more – and this is a certain sell, I’m making a firm endorsement here – of all the people you might want to be in conversation with about what it means to be healthy, what’s going on in society today about what it means to be healthy, and how to be healthy, it is Liz Wolfe.
I have every so often in my short writing career come across facebook and blog posts that posits the question: “Who is your favorite paleo health guru?” My answer? Liz Wolfe. I also like Diane a lot. Chris Kresser. Chris Masterjohn. Stephan Guyenet. Paul Jaminet. Denise Minger. The list goes on. But Liz prioritizes holistic healing. She believes in a sound mind and a sound body.
And she’s brilliant.
In Eat the Yolks, it shows. If I could give you EtY in two sentences, it would be this:
EtY is a guide to understanding food, understanding what is healthy, and doing it all with a firm, learned, experienced, and loving leader. If any book is going to convince you that a paleo-type approach is the “right way” to eat, and why, it is this one.
(Talk about fodder for defending your diet, eh?)
In some more scattered details, here is how the book is laid out, and later on some snippets just to give you a taste of what you’ll be in for with EtY:
Eat the Yolks is in four simple sections: Fat, Protein, Carbohydrates, and Nutrients. In the first three, Liz decimates popular myths and tells you everything you need to know about what’s gone wrong in dietary advice (and what the proper alternative is). In the final one, she talks about how important nutrient density, and explicates all of the different nutrients you need as a part of a whole foods diet. Vitamins A, D, and K (1 and 2) are some of Liz’s favorites, and, holy hell, rightfully so. Magnesium, phosphorous, sulfur, selenium, iodine, zinc, and iron all also receive high praise and detailed attention.
What’s so right about the way Liz does health is that – A) it is not tyrannical, B) it emphasizes quality over quantity, and C) she cares just as much about what you include as what you exclude. Yes, get rid of your grains. Yes, throw out your vegetable oils. But make sure you get the full-fat, nutrient dense liver. Eat the greens. Drown yourself in bone broth. This is the stuff of which powerhouse bodies and real healing are made.
It is entirely possible to eat “paleo” by consuming lean beef and carrot sticks only. No way, says Liz. Nutrients are the most important factor of health, so go after them with gusto.
Also, Liz emphasizes fertility for women as one of the primary markers of health. If you’re of reproductive age and you’re not menstruating, this is a clear sign – a “red flag” – in her words, that something is clearly amiss in your physiology.
Well – I can’t say I disagree. In fact, it’s an enormous relief to see a popular health guru out there paying attention to female-specific physiology.
For a woman, the body only reproduces if it perceives adequate nutrient and energy stores, so if you’re not menstruating (as many raw foodists or vegans or yo-yo dieters or SAD eaters may find is the case), this should make you want to sit up and take stock. Now – personally – I also know that a lot of things can still be right if the reproductive system is wrong. You may undereat and therefore unde-rproduce hormones you need to ovulate, but I don’t think that’s necessarily cause to panic. It’s cause to think and to fix as best you can – but, ladies, know that your health is not in a basket on its way to hell if you are not menstruating.
As Liz would well agree. She would just tell you to think deeply about what you’ve got going on, and go eat a whole foods diet, and get some bloodwork done, too, if you’ve gotta.
As a mythbuster, Liz
-articulates a long defense of cooking
-destroys the “health benefits” and “evolutionary origins” of veganism
-tells us why everything we’ve ever been told about fiber, whole-grain, low-carb, and high-carb is wrong
-has an entire section titled “why cruelty free is a fantasy” in which she reminds us how many animals suffer in the production of plants – “just because we’re not chewing on it doesn’t mean it didn’t suffer on our behalf” – how many forests are decimated for cotton production – and how cruelty is a necessary part of the food web – of every human beings participation in the food web – even if the food we eat comes in a styrofoam package and its primary protein is seitan. Of course we have to be responsible omnivores – but Liz is firm on this point. Life requires responsibility and awareness, and isn’t it better to know where our food comes from and do our best to do so with love rather than be ignorant, hateful, and fearful?
-is real about our motivations for doing things – some of her quotes could easily have come out of or be added in to my own book: “admittedly, when I went low-carb, I cared about absolutely none of this. I just wanted to trade some perfectly healthy curves for hard angles.” This is a story many of us are well-familiar with – and we absolutely must deconstruct the myths and psychological wiring we’ve got floating around our heads compelling us to do these things in order to be able to eat the nourishing way we need to.
-cites Chris Masterjohn as an expert. Six hundred thumbs up.
-kicks margarine to the curb – and quotes Judith Shaw on her expose work regarding the history of trans fats: “USDA figures show that butter consumption in the United States had actually dropped to one-quarter of what it had been at the turn of the century while consumption of hydrogenated vegetable oil margarine had risen 200 percent.”
-decimates the “healthy cereal” myth in part by telling the Kellogg story — you know, about how the Kellogg company was begun was an extremely conservative, religious company bent on purifying the body with products like fiber. For pages. I even learned that Kellogg was involved the production and proliferation of some of the first soy-based food products.
-calls out the ‘French paradox”– saying that “the curious fact that the French eat plenty of saturated fat yet suffer low incidence of heart disease–is actually the “Eskimo-Chinese-Greek-Puerto Rican-Okinawan-and-beyond paradox.”
-decimates both the lipid hypothesis and the diet-heart hypothesis by explaining their origins(in a whole chapter):
Did you know, for example, that the first heart attack on record occurred in 1912? I didn’t until Liz told me. Sure – this fact is at least to some degree because diagnostics improved, but doctors and hospitals certainly existed before 1912 and if heart attacks were prevalent before this time then it would have fit a set of already well-known criteria. It did not. Heart attack began growing and multiplying… and only have been for the last 100 years.
By 1930 the number of reported heart-attack related deaths was 3000. By 1960, it was 500,000. The “lipid hypothesis” – that is, that cholesterol in the blood causes heart disease – and the “diet-heart hypothesis” which states that saturated fat in the diet causes blood cholesterol to rise – says Liz, arose as a response to panic over what might be causing people’s hearts to just stop working.
“Let’s start here: in 1954, a researcher fed some cholesterol to rabbits. The rabbits developed arterial damage. This researcher did not, however, prove that this is also what happens in humans. Because, like, it doesn’t. In fact, you might even say that rabbits and humans are entirely different animals. Rabbits–tiny herbivores not designed by nature to consume cholesterol-rich foods like meat, eggs, and butter–have completely different metabolic machinery than humans….”
The thing about Liz’s books is that reading them is as enjoyable as talking to her, if that’s even possible. I get off maybe five or six good one-liners in my book. Liz accomplishes them with ease, and with about five to a page. She is beyond funny (perhaps the only diet book to eloquently pull off a reference to denim tuxedos), and snappy, and witty, and real.
I also like how often she says damn.
Here are some smart and/or snappy soundbites:
“For the first time, I wasn’t content with simply following rules. I wanted to know why this was working and whether all the worries were justified. I wanted to know everything. With no dog in the fight, I set out to discover the truth about food, nutrition, and how I could best nourish my body. I wanted to know how we got here, why we believe what we believe, and what all of it meant to my health.”
“Let’s call them crop oils–partially because they’re derived from big-profit agricultural crops, and partially because the word crop looks a lot like the word crap, and I like that.”
“The hodgepodge of jackassery and lies that stitch together health fears, nutrition dogma, and profitable products disguised as health foods is damn difficult to tease apart. But if we don’t try, well, who’s the real jackass?”
“Let’s usher in a new era. Let’s move on. But first, let’s dunk decades of conventional wisdom and heart disease hood-winkery in a great big vat of pork fat.”
“Truth is, I don’t care how much you eat. I care about quality and nutrient density. The rest, I believe, generally works itself out.”
“Paleo is not a diet. It’s not a fad. It’s not a rigid set of rules to follow. It’s not a sound bite. It’s an exploration of history, nutrition, the human diet, and, most important, our health.”
“So what to do? In a nutshell: Go full-on food badass. Eat what your ancestors ate.”
“The Paleo community…is doing something unprecedented. We are crushing nutritional dogma. We are fighting the lies we’ve ben fed for years, and or health is better for it. We are bringing the way we eat back into harmony with how our bodies work. What we’re doing goes deeper than dieting. We are reclaiming our health. (Fist Pump.)”
“Someone once told me that if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing poorly at first. So go out there and royally suck at finding, growing, or cooking healthy food. I’ll be right there with you, every step of the way. You are worthy of the truth, and you’re worthy of good nutrition.”
Which I think explains what Liz did with this magnificent work pretty damn well.
And is Liz not one of the best representations of an unapologetic, natural, loving, embodied, powerful, and radiant women we can look up to?
(And is she aware that her shirt matches the chicken?! Unbelievable.)
Ladies what’s up what’s up!
First – there’s a Nom Nom Paleo giveaway happening from now through Wednesday at midnight!
There were two giveaways in the last week that need winners!
First up: The Primal Organics Skincare $100 giftcard giveaway. The winner of that prize is…
I don’t know Alba’s last name, but she should have just gotten an email from me and the kickass Primal Life Organics team.
Second up: The 21 Day Sugar Detox Book and Cookbook giveaway. The winner of that prize is…
Okay, this is totally bizarre. 2000 + entries, and the winner is my mother.
She already has a copy. And this feels like the nepotic house of representatives of the ancient Romans and Nero is my emperor.
So I am going to draw again.
The second winner is…
Audra Lewis Dentinger!
Congratulations Audra — you should have received an email from me already.
Finally - ladies. There are two big giveaways happening this March. First, I am going to give away signed copies of the book, probably starting early next week (if you’ve already pre-ordered one and win we will cancel the pre-order), and second there will be one big deal wow this is actually costing Stefani money it’s so cool and I didn’t know Stefani knew anything about technology and perhaps it starts with an “i” and ends in “this is an elite yet arguably superfluous device” or with a “k” and ends in “fire” gift leading up right to the actual release on March 18.
I don’t want to spoil the surprise – but it’s a damn good one.